Kevin Hillier – Repent, Repent and Repent
Sermon 10th May 2020 - Repent, repent, and repent
At times like these it is alright to give encouragement and comfort. I will be doing that later through the Word, but first we need to look at what is happening in the world at this time.
We do not know the exact origins of this virus but it is occurring within the natural world of Gods creation. I do not know if God has allowed this in order to punish us, but I do believe he is using it to test his church and others.
The virus has emerged in a fallen world which has often misused the scientific knowledge that God has gifted mankind. Man has profited from this gift whilst denying the benefit to those who cannot pay, are caught up in wars and other conflicts, or indifference to suffering. Knowledge and technology which can protect human life is part of Gods love for us, and should be part of our love for one another. Injustice and oppression of the innocent, by not sharing Gods bounty is unrighteous and not of God.
The world we, in this country, inhabited a short while ago before lock-down included greed and self indulgence. It encouraged many of us to consume at alarming rates and justified itself by saying it gave employment and ‘prosperity’. That it was destroying Gods creation, including us, through pollution, or failing to to enrich our lives through relationship with God and others did not seem to matter. We were told that because we worked hard we were entitled to man made products which have little meaning in the context of God’s love, peace, contentment, valuing others before ourselves. All this was bad enough but our selfishness led us, with the approval of our society, to kill unborn human life, and turn a blind eye to many injustices including child abuse, and slavery. I thank God that as yet we have not allowed assisted dying.
What this virus has done is to be a leveller so we are all part of this pandemic.All those things which made us feel apart, superior, or ahead of others has been swept away; at least for now. We are all dependent on each other for help with coping with this virus.
If we look in the Old Testament we find disasters which have befallen Israel and its neighbours where God has allowed destruction and plagues to happen. They were allowed to punish the wicked and the nation of Israel for turning from God and gorging themselves on pleasures of the flesh and the worship of false gods. Despite this God relented and the remnant of God fearing people were spared and prospered as God had promised the Jew’s forefathers.
I had chosen the book of Isaiah to illustrate Gods anger at the wicked and his mercy on the God fearing. On reading it, however, it is so much more than that. It deals with 5 themes which are:-
I recommend that you read the whole book in the context of our present trouble and you will understand our Fathers will and purpose for us all. Remember it was written about 700BC.
The first 39 chapters deal with judgement for sin. Judah was in part godly but had been corrupted by surrounding pagan nations. The warnings Isaiah gave were intended to purify Judah and show the awe and majesty of God; his true nature. Gods moral perfection and power requires us to be humble and obedient to his message.
Judah by repeatedly ignoring the warnings and being disobediant to God were led further away from God and into further sin. We should be taking these warnings seriously in 2020. Our interest in other religions, indulging in earthly remedies to give us ‘peace’ and relieve stress when what we need to do is put our trust in God to reassure and comfort us through the Holy Spirit. Many people are remarking on the compassion and bravery of front line care staff during the virus crisis. Few are seeing that as God working in them through the Holy Spirit (including some care staff themselves )and they cannot explain their commitment of love. Gods purpose in all this is to restore us to him and return this nation to being a righteous and Godly example to the world.
Please read the whole of Isaiah 58 True fasting
Example v. 6 -9
“6. Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7. Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked to clothe him, and to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
8. Then your light will break forth like dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: here am I.
We cannot go to church every Sunday and go through the motions of praise, repentance and prayer. If our faith does not include reaching out to others it lacks sincerity. We need faith but also love and hope. The greatest of these is love.True fasting is more than what we dont eat. It is pleasing to God by applying his word to our society. He wants us to go beyond our own personal growth; love for others is more important than correct worship and doctrine.
The current state of lock-down makes it difficult to reach out to others as we might normally do. It is frustrating and seems purposeless. Yet if we ask our Father about it he will show what he wants from us at this time. He wants us to stay connected to Jesus with pure open hearts. He is eager to tell each one of us what he requires us to do during lock-down and afterwards. This time is also a time of preparation for what will follow after deliverance from this virus.
Our prayer life is important to the Father because he wants to protect our relationship with him and to guide our lives by revelation and opportunity through his Holy Spirit. Now as we connect with God we have to sincerely repent of our sins including those of ommission. His anger and disappointment with mankind includes our Lord’s Church. In many ways his Church has failed to fulfil its commission to go out and tell the world the Good News. It has been too inward looking; it has not dealt well with sin amongst those in leadership within the church, and it has embraced popular culture to promote itself ahead of God.
Please read Isaiah 57 v. 14-21 Comfort for the contrite
God promises to spiritually heal us so for some that might mean a softening of their hearts, humility, and for many of us recognising our greed and living a life with too little regard for others. The key to God restoring his Church is to repent of our sin. We can almost take our salvation for granted and we like to confess our sin privately with God. There is also now a need for the whole Church to openly and collectively confess its sin to demonstrate that we are all sinners and must look to the hope of Jesus. I believe it is necessary so that moving forward our Lord’s Church is fully fit for purpose.
The next theme is that of Jesus The Messiah. The detail of how he was come to earth, carry out his ministry, and die for us all as a slaughtered lamb can only have come from God to Isaiah. The promise of new life and the forgiveness of sin would have been a great encouragement to the people in 700BC but it continues to build up and enbolden Christians today.
The example of Christ living a sacrificial and servant life is our future in love of and obedience to him who saved us from sin.
We will be delivered from this virus and the opportunities to tell the Good News will be given. We have to be ready to step out for our Lord and meet the challenge. We need to live more Godly lives reaching out to others suffering indifference, oppression, and injustice.
Please read Isaiah Chap. 53
We now have the armour of God to protect us and his Holy Spirit will guide us. There is now no despair regardless of circumstances. We have been freed from fear and if we are for God who can stop us? The hope of the life to come sustains us. God will protect the remnant of his Church and our destiny is eternal life with him.
Many in this country of ours will soon awaken from a slumber and the scales will be lifted from their eyes. They will see their future from a new perspective and question their life styles and values. They will be the Lord’s harvest and must gather them in.
May God keep and protect you. Amen